Questioning the Bible
by Luke Nix
The Bible’s authority is constantly under attack in today’s culture. It is important that Christians prepare themselves to address the challenges for their own faith and for overcoming intellectual challenges in their evangelistic efforts. Jonathan Morrow’s new book Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority (Kindle and Paperback) aims to be an introductory resource for the Christian to rise to these challenges at an intellectual level.
The book’s 234 pages are divided by the eleven challenges and appendices. Morrow also includes, at the end of each chapter, a three-point summary, questions to spur discussion, and a short list of resources for more in-depth research into the challenges and their resolutions. This review will provide a chapter-by-chapter summary and conclude with the reviewer’s overall impression and recommendation.
Chapter 1: Is The Bible Anti-Intellectual?
The first chapter has to get a foundational question out of the way: is the Bible against reason, logic, and intelligence? Morrow addresses three difference forms in which this challenges appears, including the ideas that it does not really matter what one believes about God, all religions really teach the same thing (so again, it does not matter what one believes), and that Christianity is merely a psychological crutch for those not strong enough. Morrow explains that Christianity does not claim to be opinion, but rather a way of making sense of the world that can be tested. He takes the reader through the common misconception that biblical faith is the same as “blind” faith. He shows that the Bible encourages trust based on reason even commands Christians to defend the truth of their beliefs using reason. The Bible is not a book of claimed fairy tales; it makes claims about the real world that demand investigation.
Chapter 2: What Can We Really Know About Jesus?
The primary claim of the Bible centers around a figure by the name of Jesus. Since the Bible’s claims are about reality, then it makes sense to investigate whether or not Jesus actually lived and did and taught what the Bible claims. Morrow takes the reader through a brief history lesson of the quests to discover the historical Jesus (as opposed to the one recorded in the Bible). He then gives the current state of the quest. He explains the four sources used by historians to test which claims in the Gospels likely happened. Using the sources critical scholars generally agree upon twelve facts that together provide a good synopsis of the biblical claims. Morrow recognizes that regardless of what even critical scholars accept, some people prefer to look exclusively at extra-biblical sources. He addresses this group by providing a summary of the life of Jesus given only sources outside the Bible. Finally, Morrow challenges the common internet claim that the story of Jesus is just a retelling of ancient myths.
Chapter 3: How Do We Know What The Earliest Christians Believed?
It is commonly argued that it is either not possible to know what the earliest Christians believed or that they believed something very different from what Christians do today. To address this challenge, Morrow uses the Pauline letters that critical scholars grant were authored by the Apostle Paul. Morrow shows how the information contained in these letters records that the Gospel that Paul was preaching was verified by the eyewitnesses to the Resurrection on two occasions and compares it to the Gospel that is preached today. However, without reading and writing being common in that time, it is argued, there was no reliable way to transmit such information from generation to generation, so we still cannot be certain continuity was maintained. Morrow explains that this challenge comes from a misunderstanding of oral cultures in general and the Jewish culture in particular. He shows how the Jewish scriptures, singing, creeds, and sacraments worked together to maintain continuity. He also reminds the reader that if one is to deny the reliability of oral transmission of information, then most of history is lost…
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